Our article today will explain why steering wheel feels loose. One of the component of a car that stands out of the rest is the steering wheel mainly because it is fitted directly in front of the driver’s seat and is only used by the driver.
The steering wheel together with many other parts make up the steering wheel system of a car, this system enables you to easily control the direction car is going. Good steering system makes it easy to drive even a large vehicle without much force applied, giving you a smooth ride all the way to your final destination. Effortless and precise control is also easily achieved even in a panic swerve with a good steering. .
But what happens when a steering wheel is too loose than usual, this leads to overturning and makes it hard for the driver to acertain the position of the front tyres. This signals danger both for the car occupants and other road users especially in heavy traffic.
When you drive with a loose steering wheel for a period of time it can cause damage to other parts of your car at which point you’ll have no other choice than to take it for repairs. But you can save up some money by identifying the common symptoms of a faulty steering wheel as well as regular and proper maintenance. Needless to say that understanding of the basic anatomy of a steering wheel and how it works would be of added advantage.
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In this article I’ll show you what you can do whenever you have a loose steering wheel and share with you simple tips on how to maintain it.
How steering wheel system work
There are many factors that influence the exterior design of a car but the design of the steering wheel system incorporates a similar concepts in most cars. here’s how it works.
As you rotate a steering, a system of joints and pivots responds and stimulate the steering shaft. The steering shaft runs under the belly of the car transmitting the movement to the wheels that carry the tyres. Although not all the the tyres rotate in most cars, in others all four tyres rotate. This is known as a four wheel drive.
When one of this parts fail to function well, it makes the steering feel loose when turning and may need to a replacement depending on the type of steering wheel installed on your car. You may ask your mechanic if you’re unsure of what type of steering wheel system is installed on your car.
Types of steering wheel system
- Rack and pinion system; developed in the 1930s by BMW, it is commonly found in smaller cars, trucks and SUVs. This system involves a pinions which is moved by the steering, the pinion in turn rotates a rack( the rack and the pinion are in contact ). The rack is a long horizontal rod that moves sideways as the pinion rotates about a fixed position. This results in the conversion of the circular motion of the steering wheel into horizontal motion. This system makes use of a few parts and they are easy to replace. It’s response is also fast and gives the driver a direct feel of movement of the wheels with the tyres.
- Steering box system; this system is also known as a a circulating ball system. A moving ballpart is meshed by nuts to a large screw and the steering wheel joined at the other end of the screw. The ball part comes in different design some like peg or sector or roller. This links to a vertical rod that has an horizontal bar at its end. This horizontal bars extend to either side of the wheels on both ends. The movement of the various parts transmits the circular motion of the Steering into a linear motion .
Causes of loose wheels
After a long time of usage, your car will experience wear and tear. This affects every part of your car including the Steering wheel system. The wheel also becomes less firm and dangling. It can be caused by the following reasons.
- Worn out racks and tie rod. When the racks and tie rods are worn out they separate from the pinion and without a firm contact, the pinion can’t move it well. This distorts the normal feel of your steering wheel. The rod and rack can be damaged by potholes and hitting curbs.
- Worn pitman arm is another common cause of loose steering wheel. The pitman arm is an important component of the Steering wheel system so when it is worn out, it can lead to the steering being loosely fitting to handle
- Worn ball joints in the long run will make a steering respond loosely this parts are small and easily damaged, it is also affected by rust.
- Faulty power steering is another factor in that it is the mechanism that makes turning the steering easier in a narrow space so when it’s faulty it makes the steering overturn. It also causes a screeching sound when turning.
- Worn out steering jack. The jack keeps the steering in an upright position, any damage to it will make it slip down when you turn the steering.
- Entry of air or water into the system will make it malfunction. This is indicated by a foamy or discolored power steering fluid. This will either cause the Steering to be rigid or loose when turning.
- Accumulation of dirt and debris is also responsible for the steering wheel vibrating.
symptoms of a loose steering wheel
There are several signs that can indicate if your steering wheel is bad, you should pay attention to this warning signs. It is important to realize that this symptoms can manifast almost immediately, other times it manifest over a long period of times and are easy to identify even though the part affected cannot be seen. Here are some of the common ones.
- The degree of turning of the steering wheel doesn’t correspond with the angle of the wheels.
- The steering feels like it is detached from the steering column.
- There’s a strange noise or sound whenever you make a turn.
- When the steering wheel is shaking. Take note this can also be caused by a bad wheel alignment or power steering.
- When you experience a sluggish maneuvering of the Steering.
- If your car suddenly sverves out of the road, it could also be a sign that your steering wheel is bad.
Tips on what to do when your steering wheel is malfunctioning
- Be calm, don’t panic. This will ensure that you don’t take hasty decisions that can endanger your life and that of other road users. When you are calm, you’ll have the right state of mind to know what next to do.
- Switch on the hazard light and reduce your speed immediately, this is what you should do next. This is very important so others road will take caution and give you way. Do not switch off your engine as this can make the steering stiff thereby leading to a loss of control.
- Pull out of the lane and park as soon as you can. If you continue to drive with a faulty steering, it can lead to serious damage. You should also do a brief check on the car immediately like checking the power steering oil and then call your car repairer.
what your car repairer will do
Fixing a loose steering wheel might be expensive but it’s worth every penny spent. when you are able to Identify the symptoms as stated above, you can tell your mechanic what exactly the problem is, this can help save a lot of money and time. Otherwise your mechanic will typically run a diagnosis to know what the problem is and the exact place the fault is, there after fix it and replace all worn out part. The new parts should last for a year before needing change.
Tips to follow to ensure a good steering wheel.
- You should take your car for regular maintenance. This will also ensures your insurance coverage is sustained if you have one.
- Check and top up the power steering fluid to the brim and if you check again and discover a shortage. It mean there’s a linkage somewhere, this should be sealed immediately.
- Foamy or discoloured power steering fluid should be completely poured out and the reservoir filled with a new one.
- Driving at highway speed for at least 30 minutes a week will helps to expose some of the symptoms like leaking oil in your car.
Final words; Any How To Change Oil Filter In Cars problem is quite easy to identify as you drive. So when you note any don’t ignore it as driving with a loose steering is dangerous and can result in a fatal accident. If the crash is not covered by your insurance provider, it will cost you a fortune. Proper maintenance is key to afford a loose feeling steering wheel. Steering wheel has to be easy to handle and dependable for safety reasons.